Why PFF loves upside of LA Rams 2nd year DB Cobie Durant, and you should too
By Bret Stuter
The LA Rams secondary is young, inexperienced, and has plenty of uncertainty baked into the group as the team attempts to pivot from an NFL Championship veteran group to a young and hungry-for-success group overnight. That is a difficult task, as the group of young defensive backs was at the top of the food chain in college, but they start at the bottom of the food chain in the NFL.
Much like a school of fish who survive in the ocean by schooling and synchronizing their movements to appear much larger than they are, the LA Rams young defensive backs must learn how to synchronize their movements, communicate so well that they act as one secondary, and they overwhelm receivers by sheer numbers.
Still, even as the group learns to communicate and coordinate their efforts, one individual must take the lead in the group, must set the bar of excellence for the others to follow, and must hold everyone accountable. Right now, the lead dog among the pack of Rams defensive backs appears to be falling on the shoulders of second year defensive back Cobie Durant, who is coming off a very impressive rookie season:
But one game is not an NFL career
Why PFF loves upside of 2nd year Cobie Durant, and you should too
Cobie Durant was not a fixture in his 2022 NFL rookie season. In fact, he only played on 281 defensive snaps. But he certainly made the most of his limited usage. Standing 5-foot-11 and weighing just 175 pounds, he may not give an aura of defensive excellence, but he certainly knows his way around on the defensive front.
He was one of the Rams' best coverage defenders, allowing just 13 of 22 targets to find the intended receiver. Three of those 22 passes resulted in an interception by Durant. So opposing quarterbacks had a 59 percent chance of completion and a 14 percent chance of creating a turnover. Two of those turnovers occurred on the Christmas Day classic against the Denver Broncos. One of those interceptions resulted in a pick-six.
"Durant didn't play much until late in his rookie season, but he will be thrust into a starting position with the departure of Jalen Ramsey.
The former fourth-round pick did flash potential when he got onto the
field, and he ended the season with a 75.2 PFF grade that ranked 18th
among cornerbacks. He was especially good in a nationally televised
Christmas Day game against the Broncos, where he picked off two passes
and returned one for a touchdown." - per Pro Football Focus writer Zultan Buday
While he didn't get a lot of playing time due to learning the Rams defense and minor injuries, he put up outstanding numbers all the same. Not only did he get three interceptions, but he recorded five pass deflections (on just 22 targets) and he was responsible for 22 tackles, one quarterback sack, one tackle for a loss, one quarterback hit.
That was all from a rookie who played in 13 games for the Rams with one start. Can you imagine how well he will perform as a 17-game starter for this defense? What Cobie Durant lacks in NFL experience, he more than makes up for in tenacity and great football instincts. How good could he play this season? He could push for the NFL interceptions leader, as that title was earned by a four-player tie in 2022 with six interceptions. I would not be surprised if he put up 7+ interceptions this year for the Rams.
Nature, and the NFL, abhor vacuums. The LA Rams secondary has a huge void where Jalen Ramsey used to play. Can Cobie Durant fill that void? Perhaps not. But his spotlight is on, and I suggest we sit back and just enjoy the show.